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Italy coach Conte: Balotelli here to be 'evaluated'

Italy coach Antonio Conte says the selection of Mario Balotelli is a 'feeling out' exercise.

Conte admits he remains unsure about the Liverpool striker.

"A month ago, I had to explain his omission, today why I called him up," said Conte.

"The simple answer is that Italy, after the disappointment of the World Cup, is trying to build something beautiful that we can bring to our qualification [campaign] and [hopefully] a good European Championship.

"It was planned that Balotelli would be called to be evaluated, because you cannot judge [players] on hearsay. Surely it's right that we assess him closely.

"I prefer to evaluate players because it's right to test them and see whether they share any technical and tactical similarities with my idea of the game and the affinity in their mind.

"Called up during his worst spell? He plays as a starter for Liverpool, many other players aren't even starters.

"Perhaps it's for the best that he doesn't come from a positive spell. He'll be available for the national team and I'll be looking at him closely.

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